SEO professionals and business professionals looking to use SEO to their benefit both share the problem of trying to fix issues after they have started rather than getting off on the right foot. What this refers to is the fact that most people make the mistake of not getting SEO support when initially creating their website. Instead, they end up waiting until afterward. What this causes is an entire site structure and set of SEO practices that are either missing important points or running off of outdated information. In turn, this means more struggles with rankings after the fact.
What I want to do is provide more actionable advice that is applicable both for those who are getting their SEO efforts off the ground as well as those trying to trace past mistakes and create a future-proof strategy. So, with this in mind, here are some pieces of insight you can add to each blog post you make to create a more effective SEO structure to run with without having to play catch up afterward.
Where To Start Improving Your Blogging
1.) Start Strong With An Optimized URL
Chances are that if you know the fundamentals about keywords and SEO, you’ve probably put some thought into how to incorporate your keyword into the title of your blog in some way. However, it’s important to note that a blog title isn’t the same thing as your URL all the time, and you want to adopt a URL for your pages based on two main principles:
- Making sure that it communicates effectively with what the page’s content is going to be about.
- Making sure that the structure is going to make it easier for readers to navigate around the site.
How does this factor into SEO? Remember, while optimizing keywords and getting traffic, that is not a true SEO goal. There should be some sort of conversion that you have in mind, whether it’s a purchase, appointment, download, or other appropriate action that you want your readers to take after reading your blog post. Optimizing your URL not only makes it easier to find your pages in Google but also easier to get around your site for users.
To accomplish this, you want to make sure that you keep things simple and to the point, as well as following a standard structure of subfolders for different parts of the site, like a blog, for example. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible for you to put a keyword in the URL if you want, but don’t stuff them to the point where it is difficult to understand or share on social media.
A few other things you want to keep in mind for your URLs is making sure to avoid things like:
- Uppercase words, as servers may treat URLs as case sensitive.
- Stop words (“an,” “of,” “but,” “the,” etc.) that serve little purpose for understanding the URL.
- Underscores to separate words instead of hyphens.
2.) Know Prime Positions For Keywords On The Page
There is such a thing as ideal placement for keywords when it comes to the body of your text. The best course of action is making sure that you focus on implementing these in a way that is reader-friendly and paced out, rather than trying to put them all early on in the content. This will avoid any penalties for keyword stuffing. The good news is that if you choose an effective topic early on, it should be easy to integrate your keywords wherever you need to.
3.) Know Prime Positions For Keywords On The Back End
Putting keywords into your text and headings is an important place to start, but there are also a lot of other core areas in the back end of your website you want to make sure that you have them in. For starters, make sure that any images you use have alt-tags and file names that include keywords you want to rank for. In addition, you want to make sure you add a meta description that uses your keyword effectively. The good news here is that if you’re an SEO novice, there are tools and plugins that can help you make sure that you implement these in every blog post that you make.
4.) Double-Check To Make Sure Your Pages Are Crawlable
This is more of a basic double-check that you want to implement in order to make sure that your site is actually ranking on Google, as opposed to sitting unranked because Google’s search crawlers can’t actually reach and parse over your content. In some cases, this is intentional, but a lot of amateur web users may end up accidentally making this happen. Here are some common examples of how a page becomes uncrawlable:
- Submission-required forms
- Links to pages accidentally blocked by robots.txt
- Links embedded in Flash, Java, and other plugins
- Links in frames and iframes
- Links on pages with hundreds of links
These days, a lot of the above issues are rarities, but they can still happen, so you want to take a quick look at your internal links as well as other areas of your website. Another thing worth mentioning is that some webmasters make the mistake of thinking that if they put a search box on their website, that this will open up the entire site for crawling. This isn’t the case, as crawlers don’t perform their own searches to find content. This means you need to link effectively, which we will discuss in greater detail.
5.) Link Wisely
When it comes to creating an internal link strategy for your website, you want to make sure that you focus on coming up with the top destinations as well as the ideal anchor text. When it comes to destinations, the deeper into your website you go, the better results you will get in terms of helping other posts and parts of your website reap the SEO benefits of your initial posts. This means avoiding the “Contact Us” or homepages when you can and linking to other pages, like service pages or other blog posts, for example.
In terms of anchor text, don’t feel that you need to overthink it. Rather than trying to link every single keyword on the page, just focus on any area that makes sense with the page that you are linking to. It’s also good practice for you to try and link to credible sources for external links as well.
6.) Optimize For Mobile
Optimizing for mobile SEO is key for reaching the bulk of your potential clientele, as the amount of customers favoring mobile platforms and browsers is growing overall, and for some niches and demographics, it’s already overtaken desktop usage. If you want to improve your SEO on mobile platforms, you’re going to need to adjust in two major ways: changing your keywords and changing your technical structure.
The keywords, by comparison, are the easy part, as the only real change you need to make is trying to implement more long-tail keywords to try and optimize for local searches. A lot more people are trying to search “X businesses near me” or “X businesses open now,” so you want to make sure that you are using schema markup if possible to show your business hours and other important information in the search results. If you’re not comfortable with the coding required, another good option is having a well-optimized Google My Business page. A sort of online directory, this platform lets you put up essential business information along with images and even reviews.
On the technical end, make sure that you choose either responsive or dynamic websites to adapt to mobile platforms as needed. Responsive web design is useful for being more accessible and not having to make any HTML changes, but it can take time to set this up. Dynamic web design makes for a more streamlined user experience but is more expensive to implement.
7.) Incorporate Searcher Intent
If you’re not familiar with searcher intent, it’s exactly what it sounds like: the intent of the person who is searching for your website. Google tries to account for this by pairing users with sites that match with their queries in their search results but also factors in their bounce rate into the picture. When you are putting together a blog post, your goal is going to be to try and create informational content most of the time. This means that you want to make sure that your keyword selection reflects this. For example, “dentists in Toronto” is a very different query than “dental advice in Toronto.”
However, this isn’t as simple as just choosing the right keywords as you also want to implement them effectively. Interestingly, 43% of all readers of blog posts admit to skimming posts in some capacity. With the natural time crunch as well as the glut of blogs out there, this is easy to understand. This means that you want to choose your headings and subheadings wisely, using the target keyword in a way that’s going to hook their interest, without being too long, complicated, or cumbersome to read.
8.) Mind Your Widgets and Plugins
There’s nothing wrong with using widgets or plugins to try and improve your website’s functionality, but if you don’t use them properly, you may end up unintentionally hurting your SEO efforts. This mainly stems from not keeping pace with your plugins after you first set them up, especially if you plan on putting together a lot of pages on your website that use said plugins. The first issue here is that if you implement a plugin that has a security issue, these are proven to impact your SEO negatively.
The second issue is that plugins can break or become outdated over time due to a lack of updates. A broken plugin may not necessarily impact the quality of your post, but it is likely to cause your posts to take longer to load. This can lead to major problems with your ranking.
9.) Be Wary of Thinking of Keyword Integration Over Quality And Specificity
When the dust settles from your initial keyword research, you probably have a list of ideal keywords that you want to integrate into every piece of appropriate content. However, without knowing it, this could be setting you towards a common SEO mistake. This is because you need to remember that we are looking at a more savvy content audience than what you would have seen a few years ago. Putting in several generic keywords will give away that you are more concerned with keyword integration rather than trying to put together a good post.
This will hurt you directly and indirectly. Indirectly, if a customer is turned off by weak content, as they will probably stop reading your content before they have the chance to see your call to action, and you lose a possible conversion. Directly because Google factors in the amount of time spent on a page and other interactions when deciding ranking for a certain keyword. Having a lot of quick visits that bear little fruit can hurt your ranking.
Putting Insight Into Action
Creating an effective fundamental SEO structure isn’t easy, especially when you’re starting from scratch, but using these tips that I’ve outlined will help make sure that you are starting your SEO strategy in the right direction, from the beginning. Creating a series of initial posts that will rank high and make the most of your keyword strategy, will hopefully drive some key conversions. But what happens if you already have a site in place, and realize that none of your posts are putting these ideas into action? Rather than start from the beginning, it may be best reaching out to SEO professionals to perform an SEO audit.